This month, ICAI celebrates the impeccably talented Jimena Odetti, as our Artist of the Month for November.
Jimena is a visual artist who explores ideas and emotion using colours. We sat down with Jimena who spoke to us about her art, her inspirations, and her relationship with colours.
Tell us a little about your artistic background and journey?
I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Where I started my career as a visual artist and arts teacher. I have a Bachelor’s degree in visual art from the National University of La Plata in Argentina, a Masters in cultural promotion and development from the Autonomous University of Coahuila in Mexico, and a Doctorate in design from the University of Palermo in Argentina.
When I was 30, I decided to travel and emigrate to Mexico, where I worked as a visual artist and university professor in Puerto Vallarta for 15 years. There I also met my husband, who’s from Calgary, and we decided to move together with my son to this beautiful city.
I have worked as a full-time professor and researcher in the Architecture department of the Mario Molina Pasquel y Henríquez Technological Institute in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. I have participated in publications and dissemination activities of culture, science, and technology at a national and international level. I have worked as an art director in galleries in Puerto Vallarta and Buenos Aires, coordinating and managing art exhibitions.My artistic work is part of collections in Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Italy, the United States, and Canada.
Have you had opportunities to showcase your works since you arrived in Calgary?
Well, I will have my first opportunity this month in an exhibition organized in partnership between the Crescent Heights Community Association and ICAI actually, with three other artists, in an open-air space in the mini galleries located in Rotary Park, this will be my first exhibit in Calgary.
For many years, I have been motivated by the aquatic element, shapes, textures, and water-related colour palettes. Curves, transparencies, bubbles, drops, submerged in water, have been the root from where I started my artistic process and my self-expression.
Currently, the creative experience, as a free and constant adventure, leads me to contemplate the environment that surrounds me and capture essences that are intimately related to the senses.
Since I have lived in Calgary, I am fascinated with the nature that surrounds me, and since colour is always my starting point, I find myself extremely excited with the amount of colours that surround me, in the trees, the flowers, the animals, and the autumn foliage. I find in them a new world of inspiration to paint and to contemplate.
What are the challenges you are currently facing as an immigrant/newcomer artist?
The main challenge is the language, to be able to communicate in a second language and find a way to be myself, overcoming the barriers that a second language creates. For the rest, everything is new, I think the great challenge is to stay open and flexible, to understand and get to know a new culture, a new arts community, understand how it works and begin to find my space in it.
What would you like to share with the people of Calgary about your works?
I would like the people of Calgary to know my art, I would like to be able to share the passion I feel when I paint, and above all I would love to be able to connect with the people of Calgary. Transmit beauty, emotion, and provide an opportunity to enjoy and to connect with my art. I believe that the beauty of the colours and shapes motivate me to transmit positive feelings and provide sensitive experiences through my paintings.
So far, my path as an artist has been very exciting, however, it has not always been easy, combining my different interests, my passion for teaching and my academic life, along with motherhood and the path as an artist; all this has been a great challenge. As I am starting a new life in a new country with a new language and a new culture, I consider this a great opportunity to find my new way of living in my art. I really want to share my art here, and I feel very motivated to do so. I believe that my goal is not to stop making and sharing my art, finding, and enjoying all those spaces that allow me to connect with the community and contribute towards a more sensitive way of life and more connected to our emotions and our human condition.
How do you feel being selected as the artist of the month?
I feel very grateful; surprised even. It is a great honour, especially since I just arrived in this city, and at the same time it represents a great commitment, to be able to receive this recognition. It is motivation to continue working with the same passion, to be able to strengthen my ties to my new home and my connection to my new community of artists and immigrants.
Has ICAI impacted your journey in the arts in Calgary?
I wrote an email introducing myself to ICAI’s Executive Director, Toyin, and that’s how I started to get to know ICAI. So far, ICAI have been a great bridge, and my first contact with the arts community here in Calgary. ICAI helped me with my first exhibition here. I also participated in the ICAI tour of Contemporary Calgary art gallery, met other artists and curators. I am also helped by ICAI’s constant open calls and opportunities for immigrant artists. This has been a great help. All this has been a beautiful surprise and has allowed me to stay motivated and positive as I continue my path as an artist in Calgary.
What is next for you? What are some upcoming projects or goals?
I think that a great goal for these next few months is integration, getting to know the entire art scene in the city and seeing how I can continue to contribute to it. Produce my art from here and start to spread it, get to know more about the people here, the culture and be able to make exchanges with new artists to get fully involved in the art world of Calgary.
I am also starting a project with the Le Galeriste de Montreal website, where I am starting to develop a line of humanly responsible clothing and accessories, which are based on my artwork. This can be an opportunity to offer and bring my works of art into designer products; that can be used and enjoyed every day. Additionally, I would like to find a space to continue my practice as a teacher and continue teaching art.